Written by: Lucy Watkins
Directed by: Alex Pillai
Brought to you by OBS Staff Member Karolina
Picture from : Merlin BBC
Arthur, the knights and Merlin ride through the valley of the Fallen Kings. Merlin asks Arthur about the possibly stupid decision, as nothing good ever seems to happen in the Valley of the Fallen Kings. Both Percival and Arthur try to reassure Merlin that all will be fine – when, lo and behold, bandits attack. Arthur and the knights try to fend off the seemingly never ending stream of bandits. One starts to run up behind Arthur -Merlin calls out a warning and uses (very obvious magic) to stave him off. In his distraction, Merlin himself is knocked down , much to Arthur’s horror.
Arthur aids Merlin in hiding (not sure where the knights disappeared to, though) from the bandits. He checks the wound and states that he has seen much worse. He mockingly calls Merlin a coward – Merlin asks if he was to die, would he be branded a hero. Arthur answers affirmative. Merlin teases him that it’s not like that for the king. Merlin then mentions that at least the King has a good servant – to which Arthur answers that he does; one that is brave and loyal and not a coward at all. Merlin quietly thanks Arthur for saving him, and Arthur acknowledges that he knows Merlin would do the same for him. They sleep, and Arthur wakes to a much weaker Merlin. Arthur carries Merlin further into the Valley of the Fallen Kings, in apprehension of more bandits. Sure enough – more appear and Arthur starts to defend himself and Merlin. As he moves further away from Merlin , and more bandits descend – Merlin causes a rockfall – effectively blocking Arthur from the bandits – and from Merlin. As the rocks falls, Arthur screams for Merlin, and the bandits pick up a now barely conscious Merlin.
Agravaine rides at the head of the bandits to Morgana – who is less than pleased. She angrily asks how many men they had lost, compared to how many men they had captured, kicking Merlin over and calling him a servant. A wary Agravaine tells Morgana that he needs to return to Camelot, as Gaius appears to be suspicious of him; Morgana agrees, saying that if he is caught, she would have little use of him. Agravaine tries to kill Merlin, but Morgana stops him, stating that he may be useful, as Arthur is ‘strangely fond of the boy’ (Just as you used to be, Morgana.) Back in her hut, Morgana throws water in Merlin’s face to rouse him, wishing him a good morning. She taunts him with the fact that he somehow condemned her sister to a slow and painful death, stole Camelot from her and reduced her to live in a hovel. Merlin bites back that although Arthur still thinks him an underachiever, he is very proud of those items, and would die happily in the knowledge that he did that. Morgana tells him that he was not to die – that she is not going to make it that easy.
Leon and the other knights stalk the forest , only to find Arthur, they return to Camelot, and Arthur tells a worried Gaius that they will search for Merlin, as last Arthur saw, Merlin was still alive. Back in Morgana’s hovel, she tends to Merlin’s wound and asks why he is loyal to Arthur. Merlin questions why she is tending to his wound – and then tells her that he cannot make her understand what loyalty is, as she has shown none. Morgana angrily tells her former friend that just because she no longer has anything to be loyal to does not mean that she has not felt it. She tends to Merlin’s wound using magic, and Merlin passes out.
The patrol sent out to search for Merlin returns – with bupkiss. Or, rather, bupkiss and a piece of leather that seems to be form an article of Merlin’s – which, funnily enough, is in Agravaine’s possession. Agravaine starts to express condolences for the loss of Merlin, but is stopped by a wave of Arthur’s hand. Arthur laments on how the mercenaries could have known that they would be in the Valley of the Fallen Kings anyway (Agravaine attempts to blame this on another kingdom, but Arthur rejects this idea straight away), as only a handful of people knew about their trip there. Leon states that there must be a traitor in their midst (Again).
Back in the hovel of Morgana, Morgana is still taunting Merlin, and brewing up some dark magic. She summons a snake-like creature with seven heads – the Fomorroh – and severs one of the heads. Morgana informs Merlin that back in the old days, the Fomorroh were used to control minds by the high priestesses of magic, so Morgana has one burrow its way into Merlin’s neck – he will now be consumed with an overriding desire to kill Arthur, and all that makes Merlin “Merlin” will be wiped out.
Arthur, back in Camelot, wakes to a new manservant – George. George is incredibly efficient – but not what Arthur wants in a man servant. Arthur is followed into Camelot’s courtyard by Gwen, who is trying to convince Arthur not to ride out to look for Merlin, even though she is worried about his as well. Arthur is determined to ,though, and no give up on Merlin. Gwen does manage to convince Arthur to let Gwaine tag along. As the two knights ride along, they find Merlin, who has been dumped in a bog, and covered in mud – and seems very glad to see them. Arthur returns his joy, and envelopes Merlin in a hug.
However, back in Camelot , something’s not that right in the state of Merlin, as he criticises Gaius’ food, and asks him what the strongest poison he has is, cheerfully stating that you never know when you may want to kill someone. He douses Arthur’s food in poison, ridicules the chef’s smell, and then verbally abuses Gwaine in the hallway. Merlin finds his cunning plan to kill the King thwarted by Gwen though, who has already brought Arthur food. After some biting words to a flustered Gwen and confused Arthur, Merlin storms off. Frustrated, he dumps the poisoned food into the pig pen.
Merlin paces up and down his and Gaius’ quarters- agitated. Gaius tries to help, stating that two heads are better than one. Merlin agrees, but then adds that that is not the case when the other head is Gaius’. Leon finds Merlin in the weapons room, looking at a crossbow. When queried by Leon, Merlin states that Arthur needed one – and Leon tells him that the one that Merlin is holding wouldn’t hurt a fly. Merlin comes back with the brilliant line; “Well, if you did want to hurt a fly, or even a human, what would you use?” Leon recommends another weapon – a crossbow that will devastate anything caught in its arrow’s path. When Leon asks what the job is, Merlin tells him that it’s “to kill Arthur”. Leon starts laughing and asks if he is driving Merlin mad, and Merlin cheerfully answers “Not for much longer!” Merlin devises a trap so that when Arthur opens the door to his wardrobe, the arrow should stop him dead in his tracks, literally. Arthur enters, lamenting about having to figure out who is the traitor in Camelot. He jokes that it could even be Merlin, and then quickly assures Merlin that he doesn’t really think it’s him when he sees the stricken look on Merlin’s face.
Just then, the people of Camelot find the poisoned pigs. Gwen sees Arthur’s discarded food, and tells Gaius of Merlin’s displeasure with not being able to give Arthur his lunch. They quickly realise that Merlin isn’t himself, and go to find him. They run into Leon, who laughingly tells them that Merlin wanted to kill the King, much to their horror. Arthur, in his chambers, goes through the knights names, asking for Merlin’s opinion if they could betray him. Merlin, frustrated that Arthur will not spring his trap, answers him and tries to get Arthur to dress for the knighting ceremony. Arthur finally opens the wardrobe – and nothing happens. Arthur continues to dress, unaware of his servants anger, and asks for his ceremonial sword, and says that he thinks that the only person he can trust is Merlin. Just as Gwen and Gaius burst into Arthur’s chambers, Merlin charges at Arthur with his ceremonial sword, and runs into the bed pillar, knocking himself to the ground. Non plussed, Arthur picks up the sword and leaves – and Gwen whacks Merlin over the head with a pot. Gaius, back in his chambers, tells Gwen the story of the Fomorroh, and paralyses the one in Merlin’s neck and cuts it out, seemingly turning Merlin back into normal.
Arthur , on the other hand, confronts Agravaine about the traitor in Camelot. He has deduced that the only person who could have told the mercenaries that Arthur had planned to go through the Valley of the Fallen Kings was Agravaine. Agravaine though, thinks fast and plants another idea in Arthur’s mind – reminding Arthur that if Agravaine betrayed Arthur, he’d be betraying his sister – and there was one other person who had known the route – Gaius.
Merlin wakes in the morning, and appears to be back to normal. Until Gaius notices another Fomorroh in Merlin’s neck. Merlin tries to do away with Arthur by making his bathwater highly acidic – but is thwarted again by Gaius, Gwen, and Gwen’s handy pot. An awkward naked Arthur and Gwen scene ensues. Gaius once again paralyses the beast in Merlin and wakes him, revealing a normal Merlin.
Gaius informs Merlin that if you kill one Fomorrah, another grows in its place, but Gaius warns him that when the Fomorrah returns to life, he’ll fall back under Morgana’s control. Merlin comes up with the idea to appear to Morgana as Emrys. He tells Gaius that if he needs to make excuses for Merlin to Arthur, to tell him that Merlin is anywhere (anywhere but the tavern, that is). After Merlin’s transformation, Old! Merlin is temporary detained by the knights, but he very quickly has them flabbergasted (telling them that if they do not let him go, he very well might kill their king), and knocks them out using magic.
Agravaine visits Morgana to inform her that he has started the process of having Arthur believe that Gaius is the traitor, but Morgana needs more from Agravaine. He leaves, and Merlin spots him leaving the hut – finally proofing his real allegiance. Once Morgana also leaves her home for firewood, Merlin sneaks inside.
When Morgana returns, she’s terrified by the sight of Merlin – she knows Emrys, the figure that will lead to her doom.
Merlin snatches up a jar that contains the wriggling mother Fomorrah, but Morgana gives chases and uses magic to attack him.
Merlin fights back, and soon he and Morgana are engaged in a battle. Eventually, Merlin using his magic to defeat Morgana, sucking her into some sort of vortex and then spitting her out.
Merlin lights a fire and tosses the mother Fomorrah onto it, destroying the creature and releasing himself from its influence.
Back in Camelot, Gaius removes the final part of the snake from Merlin’s neck – it’s now unable to replace itself. But Gwen enters and informs Merlin that while Merlin may not want to kill Arthur any more, Arthur definitely wants to kill him. Arthur believes that Merlin has been in the tavern for the last two days. He cheekily warns Merlin that if he wants to remain as his servant, he will have to take lessons from the George.
Agravaine returns to Morgana’s hut and finds the witch defeated, in a heap on the ground. Agravaine is incredibly distressed. and picks her up, then descends into the forest.
This episode was a lot of fun – and highlighted a lot of interesting ideas. I absolutely LOVED Colin Morgan in this. I love the completely different Merlins he plays. Possessed Merlin even SOUNDED different to our normal Merlin, and Old!Merlin is always so much fun to watch. It’s so awesome watching Colin work his acting Magic on this show. Oh, and I loved Emrys with the knights “Percival! That is a sword – it DOES hurt!”
I adored the tete-a-tete between Morgana and Merlin. The frustration and loathing they had for each other – and the strange moment where Morgana was healing Merlin. It is really hard sometimes to remember that Morgana used to love Merlin and Arthur though.
The Merlin and Arthur moments were brilliant – seeing Arthur acknowledge Merlin as someone extraordinary to him, in a way that wasn’t undercut with snark was amazing. I really loved Arthur suspecting Agravaine too – and I loved Bradley James’ acting that scene too – his voice having a dangerous lilt to it, and his hand resting on his sword. The idea that Gaius is going to be believed to be the traitor is an interesting one, as well.
I liked the way magic was portrayed in this episode too – and that ultimately – Merlin had the upper hand over Morgana.
It was a very amusing episode – but I still think it suited the mood and undercurrent that has been running through season 4 so far, it wasn’t RIDICULOUS.
What did you think of this ep?
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